Are off court distractions the reasons for the Lakers' recent woes?

I've watched about every game this season, certainly every loss.  I can't seem to understand why a team with so much talent has sucked so bad recently.  With the same core of players that won the championship last year, why aren't the Lakers performing better than they have been lately? I watch these games and analyze them as much as a layman in basketball can.  Sometimes I want to blame Kobe for shooting the team out of the game.  Most of the time, I want to blame Gasol for looking disinterested and playing so weak on both ends of the court.  Other times I want to blame Kobe's lack of defense-- you know, when he lets his man roam around the perimeter and allows them to take wide open 3's.  Certainly everyone on the team can take some blame when it comes to the lack of fast break defense.  Then at other times I blame the reserves for not stepping it up.  It just seems that the Lakers as a whole are not playing with any passion or intensity, but this excuse is getting old.  Maybe the Lakers aren't that good this year and/or the rest of the league has finally caught up to them. But maybe, just maybe, the Lakers have to much going on off the court to truly focus on this season. 



After reading an article on ESPN about Kobe not taking offense to Phil Jackson's recent comments after the Memphis blowout, I found a couple quotes that were very interesting and for me, seem like a big reason the Lakers are struggling as a whole lately.

Phil Jackson said:

"[The challenge] is keeping them intrigued and immersed in what we're doing so they don't get bored," Jackson said. "We're a little afraid that some of the outside activity is an element that may be distracting them. I never thought that would happen. I thought we had professional guys. But, maybe it is."

Then, the journalist, Dave McMenamin went on to say:

Among the extra-curricular activities surrounding the Lakers this season have been Artest's championship ring raffle, Brown's engagement to R&B singer Monica, Lamar Odom's proposed reality TV show with wife Khloe Kardashian, controversies surrounding Bryant endorsing Turkish Airlines and appearing in a commercial featuring gun play for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops and even Fisher fulfilling his role as president of the player's association with a lockout looming. 

So what do you guys think about this?  I certainly feel as if lack of focus due to off court distractions can certainly play a role in a teams lack of focus, especially after the team has been to the big show 3 times in 3 years and have two chips to show for it.  

  Could it be that these guys aren't hungry anymore and satisfied with what they have achieved thus far?  I don't think Kobe is, but what about everyone else?  (I'm looking at you Ron Ron and Gasol)  And I think we can all agree that Kobe can't win it all by himself.  So what are your thoughts?


Here's the link to the article in case anyone hasn't read it yet:

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